One of the most difficult decisions I had to make in the process of relocating our center of business was choosing a contractor. I actually already had one selected in my mind, but knew that I needed to get at least 2 more bids for comparison in order to be prudent in my decision making.
I found myself slightly out of my comfort zone and thought this must be how MY clients feel when they enlist us to renovate or re-design their homes. It was very nerve-wracking knowing that I was going to sink a good deal of money into the project, and would be relying on somebody else to implement the vision. At least I knew what I wanted from the space and what the overall outcome should be – usually my clients rely on ME for that vision. To top it all off, the initial walk through was in the dark because there was no electricity in the vacant space.
So I was quite literally “in the dark” with my decision. Since this is a commercial space and not my familiar residential renovation and design, I was a little out of sorts. But I had my mental decision made for the General Contractor, right?
Well, as the day went on and I met with four General Contractors, my first choice dropped to my second choice as I learned what it was like to sit on the other side of the table as the client. Then, as the bidding process went into full swing, this first choice was a solid second choice and I had to sadly tell him that I was going to be moving forward with another GC. Here is what I learned and have definitely worked diligently to ensure to address in OUR processes and procedures.
What A Client Wants:
- The client is scared of making a bad decision. Lots of money is being spent. Lots of emotion is involved in the outcome and choosing the wrong company to lead the charge could really ruin the whole project.
- The client wants an expert. The GC I selected walked me through various aspects of the project while we were in our initial walk through and explained to me what would and wouldn’t work and WHY. He (they) did this with confidence and authority.
- The client wants to have a voice in the project. The GC I selected asked me lots of questions while on site. This not only reinforced the point above (expertise) but reinforced the point that MY vision was the one being implemented. Yes, this should be obvious, but it wasn’t with my other GC meetings.
- The client wants communication. After we were finished walking the space for the initial visit, my expectations were set in regard to what the next steps would be. While I had a general understanding of what would be happening and how long it would take.
- The client wants communication. Yes, this is a duplicate bullet point but it really is what sealed the deal with the GC I selected. They stayed in touch and apprised me each week of the status of the bid they were putting together for me. They let me know as they collected the information from their sub-contractors and clarified any detail with me that needed to be specified…and then let me know when I could expect the final Scope Of Work.
- This is where the contractor I had selected in my mind prior to the project kick off actually lost the job. I felt like I had to chase him for the bid. I put a deadline on when I needed his information to compare with all of the others, and he missed that deadline because he was busy with another event.
- Clients want to believe they are the priority. I didn’t care how busy my initially preferred GC was with other projects or events. I wanted to know that I was his priority. If he had to stay up until the sun came up to get my bid to me on time, that was his cost of doing business. Instead it cost him my business. And that sucked. I HATED delivering the message to him. He is a good man and a good contractor. I just had to make the decision I needed to make in my best interest.
JNT Developers is who I selected and have been very pleased with thus far. The only disappointment so far is that we were not able to coordinate a photo op with a sledgehammer (in reality, my schedule didn’t allow for me to be on site while they were starting the demolition).
So my team improvised and “kidnapped” me for a champagne kick off one evening. Here are a few pics:
Of course, this is the first of many bottles of deliciousness that will be shared in the new space. We’re looking forward to some amazing times together.
I’ll share more status updates as the space comes along. I stop by to visit at least twice a week and am super excited. Their demolition was much more effective than me with my little hammer…the walls are down and sheetrock is up. Paint is coming soon!
Do you have anything else to add to my list of What A Client Wants? I would love to hear in the comments below!
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